The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 27, July 1923 - April, 1924 Page: 80
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Coast history; and we can agree again as to its soundness in cer-
tain particulars, the part that the fur traders had in the emi-
gration movement. But this only makes more evident how much
the book would have improved had it been written not after a
form almost pedantic in its traditional arrangement. The first
chapter on "Discovery and Exploitation, 1785-1813" is not needed
so far as it makes any actual contribution to recorded knowledge.
The second chapter "Diplomacy Determines the Status of Oregon,
1818-1824" could easily be winnowed of the few fertile grains it
contains, and these could readily be planted in chapter three,
"British and American Fur Traders, 1813-1840." Chapter four,
"Missionary Colonists, 1834-1843," a short essay of twenty-three
pages, might well have been greatly condensed. The research on
this chapter is well done, but it is not until we have finished it,
and have begun at last to get our bearings in chapter five, on the
"Spread of the Oregon Fever, 1838-1843," amounting to twenty-
five pages, that we finally arrive, more than half way through the
book, to the chapter on "Agrarian Discontent in the Mississippi
Valley, 1840-1845." This, to the reader's amaze is one of the
shortest in the book, sixteen pages, and our regret is but slightly
lessened at the author's frank statement that "The sources for
chapter six, which deals with the economic aspect of farming in
the Mississippi Valley States, following the financial panic of
1837-39, are very inadequate" (p. 205). Chapter seven, "The
Journey to the Western Coast, 1843-1846," is described in twenty
colorful pages, and chapter nine, "Settlement in the Willamette
Valley, 1840-1846," has almost thirty. The book ends with about
twenty pages of philosophical conclusions on the interplay of sen-
timental and economic forces.
This quantitative analysis carries me back to a question I raised
at the beginning, as to the existence of data for the writing of
such a thesis. It is my belief that Dr. Bell should never have
opened his highway to the Pacific farther than Independence, Mis-
souri. Western historians will welcome the contribution that East-
ern scholars can make to their historiography. Such scholars have
peculiar advantages, limitations, and a vast amount of material
difficult of access to the Far Western writer. It is not in retelling
old tales, with whatever charm of pen, or occasional inclusion of
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 27, July 1923 - April, 1924, periodical, 1924; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101086/m1/86/: accessed November 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.